Review: Portable’s Ika of Africa album, a moment of good and bad

Many people swore Portable’s career would not know longevity about a year ago. The singer’s luck activated by the joint with Poco Lee and Olamide on Zazoo Zehh revealed Portable’s daredevil personality. The singer would not be subjected to cheating even when the media and the mockful fans proclaimed him uneducated. So when the singer challenged the corrupt system that aids and abets the A-list to comfortably cheat the strangers in the industry, a host of tongues slayed Portable with prophecies of his career ending. “Na me get Zazoo, you can’t rip me,” Portable fought fearlessly and here he is a year after with a body of work to be proud of.

Perhaps, the most illusory perception of Portable is the egoistic belief of netizens that Portable is uneducated. Some even say he does not know what he is doing. He is mostly under the influence of drugs. Well! Is he? Portable who does not know what he is doing verbally associated himself with a cult group, had his Headies nominations reverted, then subsequently came out to deny his association with the cult group?

Portable who does not know what he is doing was pained enough to challenge the Headies and Goya Menor over the latter’s claim of an award in the Street Hop category he feels belongs to his Zazoo Zehh hit. Portable who does not know what he is doing has sacked over two managers over mismanagement, fired his studio staff, called out show promoters etc.

Portable’s public display of madness is a pattern. You think of the Naira Marley that intentionally created a public drama with Ruggedman and Simi, a drama that resulted into the EFCC noticing him, a drama that influenced Am I A Yahoo Boy and Soapy, two songs that rode on the controversies surrounding Naira Marley to become hits; and you see a similar pattern in Portable’s career. It’s a law of power; you need attention? Cause a controversy! The question is not “will Portable go far?” The question is certainly, how far will this strategy last him?

Portable

The subtle form of Portable’s shenanigans, more elitist, is practiced by Blaqbonez. Unchallenged, the two, and the stranger Naira Marley at the time of his breakout, have a first class degree in self management.

Whether Portable is mad or not, one thing is very pronounced in his behavior: he lacks control. This is even more musical than it is psychological in his art. Between January and May of 2022, Portable released a single each, every week, including features from people. He went on to release an EP in the first half of 2022. He was supposed to release another album around August when he got called out by a Cameroonian artiste over theft of the album title, Voice of the Street. The album is what he renamed Ika of Africa and released in November, 2022. Two projects for an artiste in a single year is out of the world, but then, it is Portable, therefore, it is a case of patternlessness and unconventionalism.

Portable is most musical, lyrical and very appealing when he motivates on his song. This is prevalent on Ika of Africa, his album. The album opener is a masterpiece that displaces the listeners with expressions of shock. Portable is highly lyrical on Kosalabaro with philosophical takes that are practical.

This fragment of a sane Portable ripples on Grateful and Plan B. Grateful pushes the notion of “walking away” to allow growth. Plan B is a mixture of determination and desperation. The appeal and pleasure that lushly spur the ears to play on at the beginning of the album suddenly wanes right on the 6th track of the album. This is the first point where one loses interest in the album, and with a kind of disappointment, the surprise worn on one’s face by the 1st and 2nd tracks suddenly vanishes into thin air. From there, if you can withstand it, you hear a knife-sharp voice slicing across your ears with glorification of fraud over robbery, prostitution and the likes of behavioral defects the outward society consider a vice.

Portable

It is usually a big disaster when many “street” singers attempt romance, musically. The case is almost similar on Portable’s Hello Baby. Lyrically, the romantic feel of music is totally stale on the song. Something on Wonmo reminds one of Olamide’s Wo. Moreover, the most valuable awareness is scattered on Apostle and Make Money First.

Apostle alludes to and parodies Apostle Suleman and the terror attack against him that left many in his convoy dead. Portable points out the foolishness of the pastor’s followers and how it is a weapon used by pastors to brainwash Christians. Portable’s Apostle passes for another version of Fela’s Coffin for Head of State. Make Money First is ideally what Portable thinks a man should be: be financially stable before delving into relationships. Certainly, coming off the slum, he sings from experience.

Portable is also prayerful at different instances on the album. He lists his wants, shares his experiences, provokes thoughts as well as your religious sentiments, nakeds the flukes of pastorship in Nigeria and at more than 50% moments of the album, amplifies vices.

Ika of Africa is life; it has its good and bad moments. However, one is more than the other, just as it is in life too. Artistically, the album title is not appealing too. This title and a track off the album are what the singer uses to glorify himself as a wicked fellow and you can’t help but wonder if Portable is yet another Idi Amin masquerading as a Nigerian. It is not surprising tho; Reminisce once claimed to be “Ika” (wicked) too.

Ratings: 5.3/10

Sam George Mac is a music journalist known for the reviews of several music albums and songs. He is a singer and songwriter of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Highlife and RnB with the stage name SGM — a graduate of Mass Communication from The West African Union University, Cotonou.

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